On April 1, Lionsgate shifted its streaming strategy, selling its 75 percent stake in Latino-centric service Pantaya for $124 million to Hemisphere Media, a Miami-based publicly traded firm focused on Hispanic markets.
The sale allows Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer to focus on the Starz brand as it looks to grow the service, which has 27 million subscribers globally. “We’re very proud to have helped build Pantaya into the leading premium Spanish-language platform in the U.S., and Hemisphere is the right owner to continue their growth and success,” Lionsgate COO Brian Goldsmith stated.
Meanwhile, Hemisphere, which held a 25 percent stake in Pantaya since its launch in 2017, will add the service’s 900,000 subscribers to its portfolio of platforms like Cinelatino and news station WAPA, with the goal of building subscribers to between 2.5 million and 3 million in the U.S. and Puerto Rico by 2025.
“When they [Netflix, Amazon] bring Spanish-language content stateside, they can’t do what we do to promote these programs,” says Pantaya CEO Paul Presburger. “They’ve focused on their bigger English-language titles.”
Presburger is also focused on the production arm, Pantelion Studios, which produces originals in Spain and Latin America. Panataya originals like El Juego de las Llaves and De Viaje Con Los Derbez are being released outside the U.S. market by Amazon Prime Video for added production cost savings. “For us, it’s win-win. We can partner with these big studios internationally and supercharge the content when it comes to the U.S.,” Presburger adds.
After the stake sale was unveiled, Wells Fargo analyst Steven Cahall noted that Pantaya may work well with Hemisphere’s existing media assets. “We think the Pantaya asset is a nice complementary piece to the company’s portfolio, as management has output optionality with its current owned content and has an ability to cross-promote the service to the optimal target audience on HMTV networks/stations,” Cahall wrote.
Hemisphere sees Pantaya — priced at $5.99 a month and with a library of 17,000 movies and TV series — as a flagship platform to compete with bigger media firms.
“We’re just scratching the surface of the opportunity,” says Hemisphere CEO Alan Sokol, pointing to a potential market of 60 million Hispanics in the U.S. “We’re the obvious solution for that audience, with our programming never been available to Spanish speakers in the U.S., never been on Univision or Telemundo. It’s premium, relevant and edgier.”
A version of this story appeared in the April 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.